It is well settled law in New Jersey that a landowner has a duty to use reasonable care to protect an invitee on their property against known or discoverable dangers. However, a recent New Jersey court decision examined the duty owed when that invitee is an independent contractor performing work on the premises.
<p style="text-align: justify;">In the recent case of <a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Gilvary-v.-Cerza.pdf">Gilvary v. Cerza</a>, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant homeowners when she was injured while working as a home health nurse on the defendants’ property. Specifically, the plaintiff allegedly injured her back while lifting a patient, and claimed that the defendants were responsible for failing to obtain the proper equipment necessary to lift the patient.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Appellate Court noted that the duty to provide a reasonably safe working place for independent contractors does not relate to known hazards which are part of or incidental to the very work the contractor was hired to perform. However, that exception only applies when the landowner does not retain control over the means and methods of the work. In this case, the record revealed that the defendants retained a sufficient level of control and instruction over the nurse’s work, therefore precluding a dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This case is important because it reveals that a homeowner may be responsible for injuries sustained to a contractor working on their premises if the homeowner is directing the work performed.</p>
Thanks to Heather L. Aquino for her contribution to this post.